terribleturnip: (Goat)
Let's talk about how you treat your vegetables. Side dishes in general, but vegetable side dishes in particular.

Go ahead, take me to a restaurant that serves up giant horsecarrots and zucchini slices, cut on the bias like that's going to help, barely blanched or practically raw with a random grill mark on them, with a little bit of salt and pepper. I won't make a scene because I'm genetically predisposed to not making scenes in restaurants, but there will be heated muttering and moues of disgust.

Note: I'm fine with raw vegetables. Really. I will just eat a bowlful of cherry tomatoes, or snap peas and be happy as a clam. But a lot of people are confusing "al dente" with "not bothering to cook" and it's pissing me off.

I will be less disappointed with a restaurant that does something lovely with the veg, but then buries it underneath the protein treating it as just another flavor note to complement the protein. Then again, composed dishes always irritate me. I like to taste each component on its own and then in different combinations. I will allow that that's a personal quirk, but still...

Show the vegetable some love! Let it shine! Elevate it!

If I were enough of a masochist to start my own restaurant, the menu would be composed of vegetables and sides. I'd suggest some combos, but you could mix and match as you please, or have them all as small plates. There would be a couple of protein choices, but they'd all just be high quality, very simply prepared, so that they could complement all of the sides. Because seriously, it's not that hard to cook a good steak if you start with a good piece of beef and then don't fuck it up. But to make people swoon over broccoli or zucchini? That's what I'm proud of.
Here's how )
terribleturnip: (percy)
I’d say that I’m glad to see the ass-end of this year, but as far as I know, the Fates don’t hit a reset button on January 1st. And it’s my personal mantra that every day, every hour, every decision, every action, is a chance to do better than you’ve been doing, to do a more right thing, to behave better. There’s not a lot you can do about misery, except endure it, maybe consider whether you’re enabling it or letting it drive you. But joy, joy you can create. So, try to squeeze a little more joy creation into my life, that’s as far as I’m going in terms of resolutions. And pondering that joy, let’s do more of that. It hurts every bone in my Lutheran-WASP-New England body to consider congratulating myself for doing well, wallowing in it, taking pride in it. Yeah, well, sometimes you have to tell your heritage to go expletive itself.

Material things are the least likely to bring me lasting joy, but sometimes a quick fix is what you need. And then there are other things that just make me happy that I’ve discovered them.

If you live near a Whole Foods or Roots or Dawson’s or Fresh Market, consider treating yourself to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, www.jenis.com. Or really splurge and have it delivered. Go, look at the flavors. Now, even better than the ice cream – and I only know for sure that the Whole Foods in Rockville has these, but they’re worth seeking out, find her ice cream sandwiches. They’re in little brown square boxes with white labels. Oh, I know, you’re thinking “$7.99 for a freaking ice cream sandwich?” But listen. For starters, half of one really IS a serving. If you can eat the whole thing at one sitting, we need to talk about your eating habits and learning to enjoy, and not inhale, your food. Listen again. Two almond and hazelnut macaron cookies sandwiching rich, creamy dark chocolate ice cream. Rolled in salted roasted hazelnuts. How good was it? I finished the second half several days ago, but the box is still sitting on the coffee table because it makes me happy just looking at it and remembering how freaking good it was.

Plus, also, these people:

I want to kidnap these people and make them help me with Scary Perry -- so much creativity, working with household objects and a baby. And the photos are staged beautifully. Plus, their story – hey, we moved, have no social life and all these boxes. I’m so jealous of their creativity, I want to hate them. But the pictures make me so happy, that I forgive them.
http://cardboardboxoffice.com/

If you are a baker of cookies, you should do this now, so that you’re ready for next year’s cookie baking, because these two things have made a huge difference in my cookie baking experience. You need to buy the parchment sheets from King Arthur Flour – they’ll fit your cookie sheets perfectly, and save all that time you used to spend greasing sheets, washing them, or cutting parchment to fit. Now you can spend it chasing that runaway dragee around the kitchen floor. While you’re there, also buy the folding cooling rack. It stores flat, and opens to hold four cookie sheets, safely and securely. Or, you can keep putting random cooling racks all over the counter, knocking one into the other and shooting the one at the end off the counter completely. Plus, less cat sneezing on your cookies.

Okay, I know I sound like a shill for Whole Foods, but sadly, they’re the only place I’ve been able to find the best chicken sausages I’ve ever tasted. If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d say there is, really, NO chicken sausage worth eating unless there’s no possibility of finding a pork sausage or you’ve got some kind of bizarre porcine allergy. However, I’m a changed woman, and honestly there are plenty of pork sausages I’d pass up in a hot minute to lay my hands on a Brat Hans chicken sausage. Especially the DogfishHead special sausages. I can’t seem to find any more of the DogfishHead varieties, which I hope is just temporary, but stocked up on the regular varieties. Who would have thought I’d have a freezer full of CHICKEN sausage? Not me.

Also, I’ve managed to keep an orchid alive for over a year and it’s sent up a flower spike. It’s going to bloom again. I’ve never managed to do this before, mostly because I’ve always assumed I couldn’t, and that I’d just waste a year coddling something that would never bloom or do much beyond shoot out gnarly roots and then die. Wah, it's too HARD.

Sometimes it’s worth it to try it again anyway. Think on that, would you? Don’t assume you can’t. Maybe sometimes you can't. But sometimes? You totally can.
terribleturnip: (percy)
Some nights, your menu tells a story.

You’re just not sure it’s a story you want to BE in. Doing my expense reports, I come across a restaurant receipt from my last trip.

Here’s one night’s dinner: Walking Dead, Roasted Duck, Brussel Sprouts, Forlorn Hope, Chocolate Tart, Hum.

Depending on how you choose to define that last one, it could have ended well...or not.

(Walking Dead, Forlorn Hope are cocktails and Hum a liqueur)
terribleturnip: (percy)
2.5 pounds down this week.

Okay, now we’re talking. And that includes completely falling off the wagon on Sunday night and having several Strongbows and cheezy, chili-encrusted nachos. As well as a midweek stress dive into a small bag of potato chips, and an emotionally vulnerable evening where I stayed up too late, definitely drank too much wine, and then binged on a container of low-fat cottage cheese. But I give myself “good decision points” because I’ve got a two pints of ice cream in the freezer, so if I’m going to eat half a container of something, cottage cheese was the way to go.

Because I hate it. I stock my house with foods I don’t really like. Because if I have something yummy, and desirable, I’m all over it. It’s all I can think about. I bring home a bag of potato chips and a good portion of my mind will be fixated on them…thinking nothing but “potato chips, want potato chips, potato chips” over and over again, like some kind of low-IQ cockatiel until finally I wrench open the bag and eat them. ALL OF THEM. Just so I can stop thinking about them. Plus also, then I feel horrible and guilty and overindulgent and queasy, thinking “SEE, this is why we can’t have nice things to eat!” And it keeps me from buying them for about another six months, until I have another moment of weakness. (Don't think I'm too brave for skipping the ice cream -- it's pistachio and green tea. I don't really have a sweet tooth, so it would take the added incentive of chocolate or caramel to get me into that pint. How can you have two pints of ice cream in the fridge while you're on a diet? They're "meh" flavors.)

So, I’ve been making these great salads for lunch – mixed baby greens, plus arugula, with shredded cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale. Topped with pumpkin seeds and chopped pecans and diced cucumber. Half a chopped apple. It has all the things a body needs – a little bit of protein, nutfats, tons of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, little bit of salt. Plus – the thing that people often forget when dieting – it takes some effort to eat, has texture and mouthfeel. My stomach feels completely sated and I can roll through most of the afternoon without even thinking about having a snack. Unless I’m really stressed out and then I get the salty-crunchies. I’ve got pickles to fall back on, but we all know that even if you love pickles as much as I do, they are to the salty-crunchies as a celery stick is to someone trying to kick cigarettes. NOT an acceptable substitute. At all.

But every time I eat that salad, my mouth is pissed off. Bacon, it thinks, you know what would make this AWESOME? A hot bacon vinaigrette. Or feta. Or shaved Spanish cheese. Oh, c’mon, give me some cheese…you’re making my SOUL hurt. This is freaking FORAGE for chrissakes, what am I a GOAT?

Mother Nature, it would help if you could throw a couple of rays of sunshine my way at lunch time. Gloomy, grey and cold is making this salad a very, very hard sell to my mouth. Who, admittedly, is a huge pain in my ass. But owns a lot of space in my brain, and is very convincing.

If anger were a sport, I’d definitely be a sprinter. Not many people could beat me in the ten foot…but anything longer and I’m toast. Although right now, having had an hour and a half meeting turn into three hours, which means I still have an hour and a half of work to do, if not more, but still need to get to the PetSTore before it closes, and to keep my head from popping off my body in frustration and pissed-offedness (mostly because I should have KNOWN better) I’ve resorted to my old friend C6, Cheez-It’s. Damn it.

Oh, well, six more days to do better.
terribleturnip: (percy)
Ha, this is awesome:

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/some-things-that-are-worse-than-being-alone-on-valentines-day

An article that came across my desk today estimates that American will spend 815 million dollars on their pets for valentine's day. 815 MILLION? WTF? I can only hope that includes food. What are you people BUYING? They can't read a card. Chocolate will kill them. And at best, they'll eat flowers and puke them up, giving you a less than felicitious Valentine's Day present.

I have been sabotaged all day with cheap chocolate. Little gifts from the boss, two suppliers, our social committee. (Remind me to never schedule business meetings on Valentine's Day again, as they seem to feel as if they need to bring something. Dude, we do business together. I may like you...and I'm sure you love my business...but it just feels vaguely inappropriate.) Plus, of course, while very good chocolate? I can have one a day and make it last. Cheap chocolate? Whoops, all gone, one day. AND I feel awful, all cheap sugary high, blowing it already on day 3 of our weight loss contest, guilty and shamed.

I think I better pick up some flowers on the way home, eat them and puke it all up.

(For the record, I'm not referring to eating disorders here. I'm talking about cats. I have five of them. Eating things and puking them up seems to be one of their main hobbies.)
terribleturnip: (willow)
So, here's the experiment - can I turn this tragedy of denial into amusing writing? We'll see. That's my intent. The irony that our contest is starting on Fat Tuesday is not lost on me. To be clear, though, I'm not looking for help from you. You may laugh, you may chuckle, you may think oh, isn't she funny. Or even pathetic. You may chime in and say "oh, hey, I thought last time I saw you, wow, giving the Michelin Man a run for his money, I see."

What you WILL NOT DO is kill my buzz and start offering me weight loss tips. Go ahead and mention "what worked for you" and I will defriend you, delete you and out you to the Russians as the worst kind of spammer. Be fun or write your own expletive blog.

Ahem. Sorry. Limited calories make me testy. Every once in a while they start touting the longevity benefits of ultra-low calorie diets -- if you really, really cut calories back and semi-starve yourself, you'll live longer. Well, that would make me the longest lived person on the face of the earth. Although mainly because I would have been so aggravated with everyone that I would extinguish the species, one annoying well-fed person at a time.

Anyway, here's the skinny. See, funny already. )
terribleturnip: (percy)
Here, libertarians and other people who think that regulation and watch-dog agencies are crushing the free market, here’s my rebuttal:

Horse meat in your beefburger. Maybe not even horsemeat, perhaps donkey.

Not bad enough?

Pork in your halal meat.

A manufacturing plant that knew its peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella and continued to ship it anyway.

DNA testing demonstrating that really, all of those labels and restaurant descriptions should just say “Fish” because half the time, whatever it’s being called is not what it actually is.

China. Any food that comes from China. Good luck with that.

For the record, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Go outside the food industry and have a field day.

Although you'll run the risk of losing all faith in your fellow humans... )
terribleturnip: (percy)
Right? So, cook your lobsters, smaller is better for this, pull out the tail, claw and body meat. Little legs if you want to, or you can use them to add more bugjuice to the butter. Pull the main body carcass out of the shell. What you want to do is break up the carapace and tail shells, maybe the claw shells a bit so you get more surface area exposed to the butter. Split the tail in half down its topside. You're looking to use the carapace shells only (bits that have turned red) Toss the shells and legs in the butter. If you've got roe, (red beady stuff) you can mash that in there, although I would just dip it in butter and spread it on a good cracker or piece of bread...or kiss your arteries goodbye and make a quick grilled cheese with it. But that's how I roll. You don’t want to be putting tomalley (that green stuff) in there, although it’s okay if the white stuff is hanging onto the shells.

Now, heat up the butter just barely simmering...just under simmering, rolling those shells around so that they're coated in butter. Cover it, and make sure it's still just under simmering. You're butter poaching, if that helps you. You're covering, so you don't lose the aromatics. I dunno....20 minutes? When you pulled off the top to get a whiff, did you get weak at the knees? If so, you’re getting close. The butter should be taking on an orangey color. Dip in a small spoon, take a sip. Are you suddenly glad you’re not a Muslim because 40 virgins has NOTHING over lobster butter? It’s ready then. Put the lid back on and let the aromatics drip back into the pan. Let it cool until you can handle the shells, but not so much that it starts to set. Use tongs if you’re a wuss and hot butter hurts your little soft baby hands.

Twirl those shells around to get as much butter dripped off back into the pan. Be careful if you’re using tongs. Remember if you twirl with the tong tips up in the air, the hot butter will run down the inside of the tongs and right onto the pulse point of your wrist. Not that I’m a wuss and have ever used tongs. I just HEARD a rumor. The little fins at the end of the tail are notorious for bogarting the butter. Squeeze them out before you take them out of the pan. Discard the shells; they’ve given you all they can.

Now here’s where we determine what kind of person you are. Do you decant an aged red wine as if you’re moving nuclear reactor rods? Does the thought of an unfiltered beer unman you? Do you recoil from that little swirl of yummy, dead-yeasty goodness at the bottom of a homebrew? If so, you may want to heat the butter up enough so that it gets very liquidy and run it through some cheesecloth to grab any particulates. Although I will warn you: every time you heat it up, you lose a little flavor. You’re going to lose some on the cheesecloth itself. ::whimper::. And I will probably love you just a hair less, but I understand, everyone has their foibles. And you can clarify it. And that will mean that you don’t have to worry about stirring it up because it separated. But do you know why you clarify butter? Do you, punk? So it’s pretty. So it keeps a long time – because you’ve removed the solids. Lobster butter and I do not occupy a food space that includes pretty and keeps a long time.

So skip the folderol (or not, just don’t TELL me) and pour that in a glass container. Oh, you could use PLASTIC. But seriously, you just made a delicate spreadable nirvana and you’re going to risk it picking up stray leftover aromas from your Tupperware? Not to mention, fats are excellent at grabbing onto all sorts of bad stuff, so if there really are endocrine disrupters in your plastic container, I can’t think of a better way of ingesting them than putting them next to hot butter.

Seal it well. Again, butter GRABS – flavors, aromas, endocrine disrupters, cat hair. This stuff will keep for…quite some time. But it will lose its utter delightfulness in days if it is not tightly sealed. But how long will it last? If you are asking that question, you are not properly applying yourself to the delightfulness that’s sitting in that jar!

You are now ready to wallow in whatever lobster-buttery goodness you want to indulge in. This is the starter for lobster macaroni and cheese – you make the roux with THIS butter, baby. You can also just spread it over….things. By things, I mean umm, bread. Yeah, that’s what I meant.

You can also just dip a spoon in it each morning, close your eyes, lick it off the spo--- no, get the spoon in your mouth BEFORE you close your eyes. Lick it off the spoon, eyes closed and mutter a soft expletive. Now you’re ready to start the day.
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